Penn State has hired Vanderbilt’s James Franklin as its new head coach. The school is scheduled to make the announcement official at a 4:15 p.m. EST press conference today.
Franklin led the Vanderbilt Commodores to an uncharacteristic winning record after three seasons. The academic powerhouse of the SEC became, if not a football powerhouse, at least a force on the gridiron as well under Franklin. The team surprised Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee en route to a 9-4 record in 2013.
The Commodores finished with a Compass Bowl victory over Houston and ranked 23 in the coaches’ poll. Prior to Franklin’s arrival, Vanderbilt hadn’t enjoyed back-to-back winning seasons since the 1970s.
Franklin’s record of winning at a school with high academic standards impressed Penn State, which is still reeling from the horrors of the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse crimes.
Franklin replaces Bill O’Brien, who left Penn State for the Houston Texans after posting a 15-9 record after two seasons at the school.
Nittany Lions athletic director Dave Joyner explained in a prepared statement. “We have found that person in James Franklin. Coach Franklin is a highly regarded coach and tremendous leader, but more importantly, he shares the same vision for Penn State Football that we, and our fans, have for the program. His record shows that he takes great pride in the academic and athletic success of his student-athletes. We’re thrilled to welcome Coach Franklin to Penn State.”